There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Monday, July 30, 2007

Just another passenger taking the morning bus to work

I haven't been to work since last Wednesday. I've been home harvesting the "Honey, Do..." that had overflowed from the jar into a mess in the front yard. I was looking forward to catching the No. 82 bus that leaves American River College at 8:04 a.m. This would be the first time on that bus since I heard what had happened to the guy who chases co-eds.

When I boarded the bus I took my regular seat on the back bench. This is an older bus with benches at the rear on both sides and along the back. Across from me at the other end of the back bench was a very pregnant young lady who was busy with her iPod.

The bus was unusually crowded, with at least one rider in most of the seats. At least two young women were seated by themselves, something I was sure the guy who chases co-eds would notice.

The anticipation had distracted me from my book. Will the guy who chases co-eds behave now that he has been warned by the driver to knock it off? As we pulled up to the Wal-Mart stop on Watt, I could see the guy waiting, dressed in his work uniform -- white short-sleeve shirt, khaki pants and apron. With him were a gray-haired Asian couple and a man in slacks and a short-sleeve white shirt.

The guy takes a seat on the bench just behind the side exit. He sits and folds his arms across his chest. After a while, he shifts and turns in his seat so he can scan the seats ahead of him in the coach. He doesn't lean back in his seat. He is on edge, literally. But he is not prowling. He stays put.

Watching the guy, I am reminded of Anthony Burgess' book "A Clockwork Orange." I read the book years ago and thanks to the wonders of the Internet I am able to pull this quote out of the air to illustrate my point:

"Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses to be bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?"
As I watch and scribble my notes, the guy who no longer chases co-eds folds his arms across his chest and stares at the floor.

The television producer interested in the story of this guy has sent me another note:
"I didn't really see it as a story on a dangerous stalker. It was more the annoyance factor that caught my interest, from an outsider's perspective seeing these girls getting harassed and wondering whether to step in like the driver did."
I'm not excited about the tales of the guy who chased co-eds being made into a TV movie. Read my story "Karaoke on the bus" and pay special attention to the end.

Not everyone was annoyed with the guy's efforts to strike up a conversation with pretty strangers. That was especially true when the bus filled with Sac State co-eds. After all, who is better trained in the skills necessary to cope with unwanted male attention than a pretty college co-ed?

But not everyone has the skills or the experience of a pretty co-ed. The bus is not a singles bar. Women riding on the bus should be safe from predators.

So now the guy who chased co-eds is just out of luck, just another passenger taking the morning bus to work.


Queen of Dysfunction said...

I still think that the stalker guy could be made into a funny story. You know, highlight the silliness of the atmosphere and downplay the annoyance factor.

John said...

One of the problems with having some experience on both sides of the process of creating stories is a general wariness of the process.

I want more people to ride Regional Transit. In particular, I want more people like myself -- people who DON'T have to ride transit -- to leave their cars at home and commute to work using RT.

TV stories about stalker guys annoying women on the bus will have the opposite effect.

A story like this blog post highlights the silliness and downplays the annoyance. It also reveals the proper way to handle this guy -- ignore him.

But that's not the story a morning TV show would be likely to produce.